Illusions and Allusions:
Why the "Happy Haunts" Vocalize at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion
Before X. Atencio wrote the lyrics about "happy haunts" that "materialize and begin to vocalize," a happy haunt was customarily a frequented place, not a ghost. For example, "She loved to saunter through the happy haunts of childhood" (Amy Le Feuvre, "Not By Chance," The Quiver, 1906). Atencio wove his magic to transform a locational haunt's empty space into a ghostly sort of material. There is actually a literary tradition of pairing locational happy haunts with vocalizations. Such passages may have inspired Atencio's wording when he turned old haunts into old singing haunters. Five cases in point might suffice:
Our first example, a musical play, might have been in the possession of Disney's Cinderella team as reference/inspiration material. Morse & Robertson's Cinderella at School: A Musical Paraphrase in Two Acts (1881) features happy haunts alongside merry faces and light voices:
To our happy, happy haunts we go,
With our voices light and free;
And our merry, merry faces show,
That our hearts are ever filled with glee.
Similarly, in Mair Hydref's poem "Tell Me Not My Youth Is Over" (1883) we find "the happy haunts of childhood, / Where I gaily used to sing."
So, too, in The Carse of Stirling, An Elegy (1785): "the happy haunts of love and tranquility naturally lead the poetic mind to celebrate these beauties in song."
In Frances Sargent Osgood's poem "A Sermon" (1850), happy haunts are mentioned alongside woodland choirs. Other language in the poem recalls the Haunted Mansion, such as glistening smiles (if not technically grim grins), "wistful music," distorted faces, a "light-painted flower" (recalling fluorescent paints that glow in black light), and "marvellous mystery."
Finally, in Frederic William Louis Butterfield's The Battle of Maldon: And Other Renderings from the Anglo-Saxon (1900), we find happy haunts in conjunction with music, a graveyard, and the grim grinning liminality of gay laughter shifting to a dirge. (By the way, the reference to the Muses recalls the homage to the Haunted Mansion in Disney's Hercules, in which the Muses appear as singing busts.)
Poetry, Music, Eloquence,
O let your sorrow speak!
Let sister Muses weeping come;
Let all the graveyard seek:
Of happy haunts since you're deprived,
No more can blissful Hippocrene,
No more Castalian spring,
A rippled laughter gayly trill;
Instead, a dirge they sing—
Sad, tearful flow!—and joys of Earth fade
It was innovative for Atencio to distill a locational haunt into ectoplasm, even as associating haunts with vocalizations kept with time-honored tradition. Atencio's frame of reference enriched both his allusions and the Mansion's illusions.
[Note: for a great analysis of Atencio's song, see Long-Forgotten's post entitled "When the Spooks Have a Midnight Jamboree."]
In the Nippon Television series Death Note
, we are treated to some Western-style names out of an alternate universe. (We've retainied the equal signs between the first and last names):
In the manga version of the story, the names are a bit different: Toors Denote, Haley Belle, Lian Zapack, Arire Weekwood, Ale Funderrem, Freddi Guntair, Knick Staek, Bess Sekllet, Frigde Copen, Girela Sevenster, Raye Penber, and Nikola Nasberg.
We're honored that our controversial "pop" take on occult language, in Magic Words: A Dictionary
(Weiser Books), proved influential to the writers of the TV series Kamen Rider Wizard
when they sought catchy English phrases to work into their scripts. In that show, the magician hero uses playful pop-culture-derived words like "shabadoobie" to trigger transformations. Though we have been lauded for being the first reference of magic to analyze mystical phrases from pop lyrics, comic books, TV shows, movies, and pulp fiction, our approach is yet something of a hot potato. Claude Lecouteux's Dictionary of Ancient Magic Words and Spells
directly takes on our own dictionary, claiming that while the Harry Potter
series has popularized magic words, "novels, films, and comic books can provide only a simplified, distorted version of them." You'll have already detected a philosophical division that can be likened to the "lesser and greater vehicles" of Buddhism's Hinayana and Mahayana schools. The "greater vehicle" (our own) allows for the recognition of magic words in all sorts of sources and contexts, while the "lesser vehicle" (Lecouteux's) pooh-pooh's language not scrawled on ancient scrolls. (Here's a secret that the Buddhists eventually came to realize: both vehicles get to the same place. Lecouteux, bless him, doesn't seem privy to that insight. But no matter, as words of power march on, oblivious and impervious to the footnotes scholars try to pin on them.)
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Original Content Copyright © 2016 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.